The feminine principle in the Gnostic theories, as we have seen, is of fundamental importance.
From kingdom to slavery
Serbs are the Orthodox people of the post-Byzantine cultural circle. Their history dates back to the VI century, when the ancient Slavs, the ancestors of the Serbs, are actively populating the western part of the Balkan Peninsula. In the VIII-IX centuries, the first state formations of Serbs appeared. And at the end of the 12th century, the Serbs managed to strengthen the Serbian State and free themselves from the direct power of Byzantium. By the middle of the 14th century, Serbia had become a major power covering almost the entire south-western part of the Balkans.
The peak of medieval Serbia falls on the epoch of Stefan Dusan the Strong (1331-1355). During this period, like Bulgaria, against Serbs in the background of the weakening Byzantium, engulfed by the civil war of the Palaeologi and Cantaculones, the idea is that from now on the Serbs will have to assume the mission of the Empire and become the largest power of the Orthodox world, the Serbian Empire. Under Dusan the Strong it becomes almost an official ideology. So, after the next victories over the Greeks from the end of 1345 Stephen began to be called the “God-centered” king of “Serbs and Greeks”. At the Council of 1346, together with the wedding of Stephen to reign, instead of the former autocephalous archdiocese in Serbia, a patriarchate was established. The Bulgarian patriarch Simeon also attended the ceremony. On the coins with the image of Dusan, “rex Rasie, imperator Romanie” – “King Rashka” (the name of the northern part, the countries where the ethnic Serbs lived) and the Emperor of Rome were minted. ”
However, after the death of Dusan the Strong, the united statehood is being destroyed. In 1389, a catastrophe comes: the combined forces of the Serbian princes suffer a crushing defeat in the battle on the Kosovo Field. Serbs lose their independence and are compelled to recognize their vassal position in relation to the Ottoman Empire. Finally, Serbia was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1459 and for the next 350 years the Serbian lands are part of the Ottoman Empire. Part of the northern territories from the end of the XVII century are part of the Austrian Empire.
Serbs experienced Ottoman rule more tragically than other Byzantine peoples. The Battle of Kosovo is a fundamental event in Serbian history, where the defeat of the Serbian army, in contrast to previous achievements of Dusan the Strong, is the central axis of Serb identity. Rare people base their existence not on the memory of victories and exploits, but on the bitter memory of the terrible defeat and subsequent submission to the Turks. This tragic attitude of Serbian culture has a number of common features with the Shiite religious culture, in the center of which stands the memory of the death of the holy imams – Hassan and Hussein. At the same time, Serbs throughout the Ottoman statehood bravely and steadfastly maintained their Orthodox faith, ethnic culture and identity. They often raised uprisings, which were ruthlessly suppressed by the Turks every time.
The next Serbian uprising began in 1804 and lasted 9 years, until 1813, during this period the Serbian principality was temporarily proclaimed. However, the insurrection was suppressed by the Turks and the principality was abolished. The second Serbian uprising, which began in 1815, was more successful: in fifteen years the sultan officially recognized Milos Obrenovic as the ruler of Serbia. Under the terms of the Berlin Peace, Serbia gained independence, in 1882 was proclaimed a kingdom.
Unlike Bulgaria, Serbia always focused more on Russia, although certain political circles interacted with both France and Germany (to a lesser extent). From France, Freemasonry and bourgeois liberal-democratic ideas spread among the Serbs.
In the First World War, which broke out through the fault of the Serbian Gavrila Princip from the radical organization Black Hand, who killed the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Serbia participated on the side of the Entente and, accordingly, Russia. In the Second World War, it was occupied by Hitler, but the Serbs led an active guerrilla war against the Germans. After 1945, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, with the exception of Serbia, included Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Macedonia, became a socialist state. After the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the USSR, Yugoslavia split into parts of its Republic as a result of bloody and cruel domestic wars. Later, the last Republic of Montenegro emerged from Yugoslavia, and Yugoslavia ceased to exist. And then Kosovo, with the support of the United States and the European Union, separated Kosovo, populated mainly by Albanians (an ancient Indo-European people, probably the descendants of the Illyrians).
Bogomils in Bosnia
Bosnia is a separate case for a number of reasons. This Balkan territory is actively populated by Slavs (mostly Serbs and Croatians close to them) since the 7th century, so it can be considered in the context of Serbian history. The first independent state from Byzantium on the territory of Bosnia formed in 1180 a bath (prince, king) Kulin. Under the Tvrtko bath in the second half of the fourteenth century, the state reached its apogee, expanding its territories and strengthening its influence against the background of its neighbors. After the death of Tvrtko, the decline began, in 1463 Bosnia was captured by the Turks and annexed as a vilayat to the Ottoman Empire.
From the religious point of view, on the territory of Bosnia, it is possible to fix three Christian confessions during the period of independence: Orthodox, associated with the Serbian church, Catholics, originally dependent on Hungary and its episcopate, but then reoriented directly to Rome, and representatives of the Bosnian church, whose identity is being maintained Disputes. Even under the Kulina bath, the Pope and the Hungarians accused the Bosnian church of heresy, that is, in Bogomilism. And although Ban Kulin tried to prove that he was loyal to Rome, the Hungarians launched a series of crusades in order to eradicate heresy in Bosnia. The Bosnian ban Ninoslav, the successor to the Ban Kulin, was a consistent supporter of Bogomils, persistently defending ecclesiastical independence. As a result, the Roman curia was defeated in the struggle for influence in Bosnia, and the Catholic bishop was expelled. Supporters of this church called themselves “krstyani” (Christians) and “kind people”. They denied the church rites of both the West and the East, and also had a special worship close to the worship of the Bogomils. The service was conducted in the Slavic language, and the clergy consisted of local residents. A distinctive feature of the Bosnian church was that it did not collect tithes and did not have land holdings with feudal-dependent peasants. Adherents of the Bosnian church was not only a simple people, but also many notable secular feudal lords and even some bans. The example of Bosnia during this period suggests that historically there was a State with a predominantly frankly Gnostic religion, and that this State was Slavic (Serbian), and its ideological origins should be sought in post-Byzantine Bulgaria, and then to the Paulicians, Manichaeans, and, perhaps, , And to the early Christian Gnostics.
After the Ottoman conquest, the population of Bosnia begins to differentiate in three directions. The Orthodox Serbs strictly retain their identity and build their historical narrative around it, uniting with a single Serbian people. Catholics, which in most cases are Croats, also cherish allegiance to Rome. And the Serbs of the Bosnian Church, that is, either Bogomils or Orthodox with strong Bogomil features, mostly accept Islam, thus forming a special community in which elements of the dualistic gnosis remain in the new cultural context. In the Sunni Islam of Bosnia, Sufi tarikats are extremely common, in whose practices and theories can one distinguish gnostic features.
In 1878, according to the decision of the Berlin Congress, Bosnia and Herzegovina was transferred to the administration of Austria, and later in the twentieth century they became part of Yugoslavia.
In the period of the break-up of Yugoslavia, all three Bosnian identities clashed in the irreconcilable and bloody conflict during the civil war of the Bosniaks (that is, the Muslim Serbs, the descendants of the Bogomils), Orthodox Serbs and Croats-Catholics. So an ancient identity has made itself felt in our time.
Milorad Pavic: the Serbs did not know how to swim
The Serbian writer Milorad Pavic (1929 – 2000), whose works help to better understand both the Serbian Dasein and certain features of the Serbian Logos, built on it historically, is the clearest representative of Serbian identity in its complex and multidimensional, multifaceted expression.
Pavic in his novels and stories reconstructs the context in which the Serb identity was developed. This context was primarily a Byzantine cultural space, which included countries that inherited Byzantine missions – primarily the Slavs, the Serbs and the Russians. Pavic very accurately grasps the geopolitical identity of Byzantium and the post-Byzantine world as an expression of land civilization, Rome, and not Carthage, the land, and not the sea. In this sense, its geopolitics strictly corresponds to the model of Proclus, which contrasted the divine Athenians with the Titanic Atlanteans in the comments to Plato’s Critia and Timaeus. Byzantinism, as well as Russians and Serbs (here you can add Bulgarians, Romanians and Georgians), are adjacent to the Sushi civilization, and moreover, are its core.
In the novel “The Other Body,” the heroes of Pavic speak of this with utter clarity in a particular poetic language:
“The Byzantines are Greeks who have forgotten how to swim.
– In what sense?
– The Byzantines forgot that they were once Argonauts and that Greece stands on the seashore. In addition, they forgot how to build ships and what they need. Byzantium never had a fleet. To feed the capital, grain from Bulgaria to Constantinople was transported by hired Venetian galleys. And the most important area of this city, Galata, which goes to the Golden Horn Bay, and therefore protects the approach to Constantinople from the sea, the Genoese built for the needs of their merchant fleet. Not surprisingly, the solid walls of Constantinople fell under the blows of those who had ships. Under the blows of two powerful fleets – Venetian and Turkish. But that’s not all. And other countries that were part of the “Byzantine Commonwealth”, as you called it, that is, Serbia, Bulgaria, Russia, also like original sin, were afraid of salt water.
– Good question. Dubrovnik is another matter. In the Middle Ages, all the Serbian kings besieged Dubrovnik, wishing to take possession of this small but diplomatic and commercially powerful Roman Catholic republic on the Adriatic, which had reliable gold stores (as in our time Switzerland), an excellent geographical location and a large merchant fleet. However, all the Serbian sieges of Dubrovnik were crashing, and for the same reason.
“The Serbs did not know how to swim.”
– This, of course, is a metaphor. None of the Serbian princes of the Middle Ages had a fleet, which made any siege meaningless – the citizens of Dubrovnik by sea got everything they needed to survive and repel the attack from the land. The same was with Russia. The Russian fleet was built only under Peter the Great, and even then it was built not on the sea, but far from it, on the continent, on the river shipyard in Voronezh. ”
This passage is extremely capacious in describing the Byzantine stratum of Serbian culture. “The Serbs did not know how to swim.” This is a recognition of the deep land identity of the Byzantines and post-Byzantines, but since in geopolitics the concept of “land civilization” corresponds to a certain cultural type – the predominance of traditional values, heroism, vertical hierarchy, conservatism, etc., this statement is richly profound philosophical sense. Serb identity is the identity of Rome, not Carthage, and by analogy – Tradition, not Modernity. Of course, far from everything in the ancient and, especially, modern history of the Serbs strictly corresponds to Pavic’s identification, but he defines the main line of Byzantium absolutely exactly.
Adam Ruhani and the smile of Cybele
Serbian identity was formed, however, in the context of the imposition of several religious forms – Christianity (mainly Orthodoxy, but in constant contact with Catholic influences coming from closely located countries of Western Europe – Italy, Germany, Hungary), Islam (in the context of which the Serbs lived for several centuries In the conditions of the Islamic Empire) and Judaism (representing small communities whose interest in the Serbs is associated with sympathy for religious minorities in whose role they themselves found themselves after the victory of the Turks on K Special field). This interweaving of the cultural contexts of the three monotheistic religions, sometimes operating with the same events, figures, personalities, but interpreting them in their special theological horizons, Milorad Pavic describes in his most famous work “The Khazar Dictionary”. In it he creates a fantastic reality of the fictional Khazaria, based on historical information about the real Khazar Kaganate, a unique state whose political elite, the Turks, adopted Judaism as an official religion, but in which Islam and Christianity were common. Khazaria for Pavic is a metaphor for Serbia in its metahistorical dimension, as a small country included in the cosmic processes of the world religions, the powerful civilizations of the East and West, which take in their deep metaphysical whirls a mysteriously dismembered, brooding and passive Serbian people, Its dream anticipation. Hence the constant theme of the oneristic space that permeates most of Pavic’s texts: the Serbs live in a dream, the story for them is a juicy and terrible dream, from where it can be turned into the most unexpected temporal and spatial labyrinths, located synchronously with each other. This is also the structure of Khazar Dictionary by Pavic. It can be read in three versions – “Christian”, “Islamic” and “Jewish” (of course, we are not talking about the comparison of orthodox theological systems, but about aesthetic stylization), and in any directions and in any order. In addition, the “Khazar Dictionary” has two gender versions, male and female, than Pavic wants to emphasize the difference between the spiritual universes of men and women, which he pays special attention to in his texts. On this basis, Pavic was placed in the category of postmodern writers, although his inspiration is not so much proper, post-modern, as archaic, traditionalist, Balkan-Slavic and post-Byzantine character – the Western European Modernist has not really touched Serbia.
The overlapping of stylized monotheistic contexts in the Khazar Dictionary and the general oneirical atmosphere of the synchronic narrative (myths that presuppose an infinite repetition of details and accentuation of apparently seemingly irrelevant details) are built around an ever-elusive axis in which Pavic feels for one General, which is inherent in the three monotheistic faiths. He finds this in mysticism and mystery subjects: Sufism in Islam, Kabbalah in Judaism, Hesychasm and monastic Intelligence in Christianity. In addition, this mystical in Pavic has a pronounced gnostic and hermetic character. At the same time, the Bogomil component predominates in the general mood. With this Bogomilism, Pavic also explains the peculiarity of the tragic Serbian fate: this is Christianity, but a special Slavonic folk, this is Byzantium, but reinterpreted by the mysterious and metaphorical Slavic soul, this is an appeal to Islam, but in its versions on the verge of heresy (extreme Shiism Ishmaelite, with his idea of recreating the “spiritual man,” Adam Ruhani in the moment of the last battle with Dadjal, or the Jewish Kabbalah, imperceptibly passing into radical forms of Sabbathism, with his “sacred anomie” and veneration of the pseudo-messiah, not g Vorya mention the ecstatic and orgiastic practices of the followers of Jacob Leyba Franka). Although many phenomena are anachronisms in the case of the historical Khazaria, since Pavich does not speak about strict reconstruction, but about drawing a super-temporal map of the Serbian soul, the Serbian Dasein, neither temporary inconsistencies nor the interweaving of real figures and religious ideas with fantastic or seen ones In a dream, not only do not distort the picture, but on the contrary, more clarify it. As soon as we accept that “Khazaria” is a conditional name for “parallel” to contemplative Serbia, and deeply personal, everything falls into place.
A similar structure we find in other novels of Pavic, each of which is also directly or indirectly devoted to the Serbian Logos.
So in the novel “Another Body” Pavic develops the idea of the existence of a double, a double of a human being and tries to construct his phenomenology. This theme is central to the work of the French specialist on Islamic and especially Iranian tradition Henri Corbin, who in his works pays much attention to the “body of resurrection” and “the body of glory”, as well as mundus imaginalis, “the world of imagination”, lying between a purely spiritual world and Corporal. In this world there is what the Platonists called “ohema,” όχημα, or “body of the soul,” which has a different phenomenology and a different attitude to both physicality and time and space. The second body of Christ stood in the center of attention in docetic Christology (claiming that the crucified was “not the real Jesus”), which was followed by many Gnostic sects, including Bogomils, and on the other hand, the Judeo-Christian Evionite current, as well as Official Islamic Christology (in the Qur’an, the crucifixion is proclaimed visibility – “no, they did not kill him, they just saw it”). “Another body” is viewed by Pavic and, in an individual sense, as an ontology of a double capable of exiting according to a different logic and other conditions than a spatio-temporal model that has become a natural science axiom within the boundaries of Newton’s “Heartland”. But it can be viewed collectively as the “other body” of Serbian culture, Serbian Dasein, feeling alien and suffering in the cold Universe of the Western European Modern, how it experienced its differentness in the tragic centuries of Ottoman rule.
It is significant that Pavic in this same novel approaches the theme of the Logos of Cybele, the theme of Ephesus and his temple, correlating this with the Gnostic and apocryphal motifs associated with the Theotokos, whose house in the last years of his life was in Ephesus.
The characters of Pavic exchanged such enigmatic phrases:
– How do you know the spell “Smile of Cybele”?
“I’ve known him for a long time.” Found in Ephesus. Then it seemed to me just a number. Number 1266. But next to this number there was a recording in Italian: “Sorriso di Kibela”, which I translated as “Smile of Cybele”. Then I translated this number to Italian. And she uttered it aloud: Mille dugento consessanta sei … These words seemed to remind me something, but I could not understand what it was. When you spoke Dante’s lines from “Hell” today and mentioned “The Smile of Cybele,” I immediately remembered exactly where I read these poems.
The feminine principle in the Gnostic theories, as we have seen, is of fundamental importance. However, in Pavic’s case, it is rather a question of the Dionysian interpretation of the feminine principle, the image of Sophia. Although, as always in such cases, everything depends on the nuances of interpretation.
From the point of view of Noomahiya, the Serb identity in the version of Milorad Pavic, as well as other Serbian poets, writers, thinkers and artists, is a classical version of the Dionysian Logos, passing the cycle between immersion in the depths of Cybele and rising to the heights of solar contemplation. At the same time, Pavlovich’s Dionysian Slavism does not possess the fatal desperation with which the works of European “black romantics” are painted. Serbian romanticism has a completely different nature, the gnostic rejection of the flesh world, is combined with it with the Orthodox-hesychast and platonic in nature, the idea of the transformation of the flesh, its purification and its enlightenment, its elevation in the rays of the Uncreated Light.